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Library Conversations: Reclaiming Interpersonal Communication Theory for Understanding Professional Encounters
Marie L. Radford and Gary P. Radford
Item Number: 978-0-8389-1484-7
Publisher: ALA Neal-Schuman
Price: $75.00
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184 pages
6" x 9"
ISBN-13: 978-0-8389-1484-7
Year Published: 2017
AP Categories: A, C, I

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The importance of being “fully present” in face-to-face as well as virtual interactions in the complex, challenging, and rapidly changing work environment of today’s libraries cannot be overstated. It means the difference between conversations that are clear, non-confrontational, and productive and those that are unfocused, awkward, or even threatening.  From the reference desk and the community meeting to the board room, the human resource office, and the conference table, effective interpersonal communication lies at the center of the profession. Offering analysis applicable to all types of library situations, this book
  • describes a number of theoretical frameworks for understanding interpersonal communication, spanning Aristotle, John Locke, Ruesch and Bateson, Watzlawick and his colleagues, and Erving Goffman;
  • uses examples from all different types of library interpersonal encounters, including those with colleagues, the public, managers, and subordinates, to discuss how these historical frameworks apply to libraries and the world of information science;
  • combines theory with decades-long empirical research gathered by the authors and their colleagues; and
  • offers an in-depth examination of the reference encounter, introducing a content/relational model of success illustrated with examples from librarians and library users.
By applying the insights provided here to daily communication practice, libraries everywhere can build positive relationships with library users, the communities they serve, and among their own staff.
Table of Contents

List of Illustrations

Part 1    Reclaiming Theory for Library Contexts

Chapter 1    Interpersonal Communication as Practical Wisdom: Reclaiming Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics for the Professional Sphere
Chapter 2    Interpersonal Communication as Civil Communication: Reclaiming John Locke’s An Essay Concerning Human Understanding
Chapter 3    A Relational View of Interpersonal Communication: Reclaiming Ruesch and Bateson’s Communication: The Social Matrix of Psychiatry
Chapter 4    An Interactional View of Interpersonal Communication: Reclaiming Watzlawick, Beavin Bavelas, and Jackson’s Pragmatics of Human Communication

Part 2    Applying Theory to Reference Encounters

Chapter 5    Interpersonal Communication as Face-Work within Reference Encounters Reclaiming Erving Goffman’s On Face-Work
Chapter 6    A Relational Model of Interpersonal Communication for Face-To-Face and Virtual Communication in Reference Encounters
Chapter 7    What Did We Learn?

Appendix: Physics/Bumper Car Transcript
About the Authors

About the Authors

Marie L. Radford
is professor in the Department of Library and Information Science and director of the PhD Program at Rutgers University’s School of Communication and Information. Her other books include Research Methods in Library and Information Science, Sixth Edition, with Lynn Silipigni Connaway, and Leading the Reference Renaissance. She received the 2010 ALA/RUSA Mudge Award for distinguished contributions to reference service.

Gary P. Radford is professor and chair of the Department of Communication Studies at Fairleigh Dickinson University, Madison, New Jersey. He serves as editor-in-chief of the Atlantic Journal of Communication, and is past chair of the Philosophy and Communication Division of the National Communication Association. His other books include On the Philosophy of Communication, On Eco, and (as coeditor) Transgressing Discourses: Communication and the Voice of the Other.

”With examples of both face-to-face and virtual interactions in the text, the book does well providing concrete examples of reframing interactions for professional use. Yet, the clearest comment is that interpersonal communication cannot be replicated: examples can be provided, theories tested, research discussed, but it is what the communicants do and how the librarian connects theory and practice that provides the benefit."

”A satisfying combination of intellectual and practical, this work will appeal to librarians in public service positions and to those teaching or mentoring students preparing to join the profession."
— Library Journal

”This will be beneficial to those who seek information on communication theories, and how to implement the best possible communication and reflective practices for each unique scenario."

”In this book, the authors try to step back and study what really goes on when two people talk directly to each other, whether in person or via technology … The book’s use of examples, and especially reference transcripts, drives home salient points. Less a textbook with guidelines than an effort to enrich the theoretical foundations of library science, this insightful book is recommended for academic libraries supporting MLS programs."
— Catholic Library World

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